April 20, 2016 Ghost Bewitch The Paramount Huntington, NY 4-15-16
For a band that has been on the Heavy Metal scene for less than ten years, Sweden’s Ghost has made some amazing accomplishments all while be shrouded in mystique. After releasing their debut album, Opus Eponymous, in 2010, they were nominated for a Grammis Award for Best Hard Rock Album in 2011. This would only be the beginning of accolades for the band featuring six members, whose identities still remain obscure.
Intriguing to the psyche, some may say the band’s anonymity is a marketing gimmick, but the truth is it is testament to the singular goal of Ghost, to create art. This could clearly be felt even more prevalently on their third studio album, Meliora, from 2015. An album which is their most successful to date, even seeing them get nominated for a Grammy in 2016, Ghost continue to spread the word of Meliora with their latest return to North America for the Black To The Future Tour. A trek that kicked off on April 13th, dates will run through May 22nd, but not before they made their first visit ever to Long Island, New York on Friday, April 15th, when they took over The Paramount down in Huntington Village. It came as no surprise with such a buzz surrounding them that only a few tickets were left by the time the box office opened that night as fans lined up and down the block, anxiously awaiting to get inside.
Setting the mood for the evening, supporting act The Shrine was up first. Out of Venice, California, the Heavy Metal trio of Josh Landau (guitar/vocals), Court Murphy (bass), and Jeff Murray (drums) are best described as a blend of the best of ’70s Psychedelic Rock, classic Punk, and Alternative Rock. Recently releasing their debut album, Rare Breed, back in January, this supporting role for Ghost is the perfect match to bring awareness to who The Shrine are.
Coming out ready to put on a strong performance, their set consisted mostly of songs off the new release such as “Dusted and Busted” and the album’s title track, but they also performed songs from their earlier releases, including “Destroyers.” While they were playing to a pretty packed floor and the audience was clearly digging the groove, they fed off of the energy to get lost in the music and jam past their set time’s allowance. That did not upset spectators, who loved every minute of the performance, and many popped up their cell phones to catch Landau playing over his head and even on his back, Jimi Hendrix style. The Shrine definitely had everyone’s attention and unquestionably gained more who will be checking out Rare Breed.
With a heavy black curtain drawn to hide the stage, The Shrine’s gear was removed from the stage and Ghost was preparing for their black mass. With eager fans chattering on the floor, after a short while, the house music was replaced by two instrumental songs, “Miserere mei, Deus” by Gregorio Allegri and “Masked Ball” by Jocelyn Pook. Setting the mood, everything went black and the curtains were drawn to reveal the stage as the five Nameless Ghouls came out and began the song “Spirits.” Soon after, Papa Emeritus III emerged with open arms to greet his fans and welcome them to the ceremony as they went into “From The Pinnacle To The Pit.” Following the grand introduction, they performed “Stand By Him” and “Con Clavi Con Dio,” before strong tracks from 2010’s Opus Eponymous.
Having the audience completely entranced with “Per Aspera Ad Inferi,” following the song, Papa Emeritus III expressed appreciation to everyone for coming out. With his thick Swedish accent, he then asked, “How are you tonight?” Igniting a blaze of cheers, he continued saying, “A fun Friday night in Huntington, NY! We need to slow things down a little.” After such an upbeat start, it was understandable the band wanted to do so in order to sustain the atmosphere of the night. Welcoming the change of pace, fans listened as Papa Emeritus III took several minutes to talk about food. Perhaps getting more than a few people’s taste buds salivating, then he introduced two nuns who came out on stage and he referred to them as “Sisters of Sin.” Then returning the topic back to food, he said, “Remember I said this next song was about culinary things? This song is about eating flesh. Do you like drinking blood?” Set up perfectly, more screams of joy came from the crowd as hands flew in the air and the band went into 2013 Infestissumam track “Body And Blood.”
Papa Emeritus III let the moment set in and vanished from the stage for a few minutes only to return with a new and compelling wardrobe. That led into the 2016 Grammy Award winning song “Cirice” as many enthusiastic spectators joined in singing each word. With the music depicting, the crowd was so energized they began chanting “Papa Emeritus, Papa Emeritus,” over and over. Quite an emotional moment for followers, Ghost went on to offer “Year Zero.” When the song ended, bright white lights were lit facing the audience. As bright as the sun, many shielded their eyes as the instrumental piece “Spoksonat” began to play before the lights let up during “He Is” and “Absolution.”
Continuing to converse with the audience between the musical offerings, Papa Emeritus III asked the audience, “How are you doing now? Feel Good?” To his high priest’s delight, they screamed, “Yes!” He continued, “I know a thing or two about this area. I know you like hard-core music, Mom and Dad, excuse my language … now we are going to play you a really heavy motherfucker! Are you ready?” Igniting a frenzy, he asked again, “Are you ready?” As the crowd’s decibel level reach peak levels, they were given the song “Mummy Dust.” With the stage lights now dim, all that could be seen was two six foot tall candle holders with three lit candles on each. The room’s lights came up enough to see they were being carried out and around Papa Emeritus III as everyone began to holler once more. With that greeting, he said, “I haven’t made a very impressive entrance yet … let’s try that now.” He left the stage for a moment and then returned, making a grand entrance with even more ruckus. With his arms open wide, he smiled, then said, “Please give it up for the Nameless Ghouls!,” provoking an equally as positive response.
Keeping the show interesting, at this point, only three Nameless Ghouls remained on the stage and they took a seat on the stage riser to play Roky Erickson’s “If You Have Ghosts” acoustically. With everyone singing and clapping along, their beat replaced the drums throughout the song, but midway through, Ghost seized the music. Rather abrupt, but no less disruptive, Papa Emeritus III took this time to say, “When we started, we decided not to have names, except for me and my predecessors. Then we began to find fame and we would be asked to sign things, so we decided to have symbols.” He then spoke for a while about the band’s journey to fame and discussed the significance of the symbols. This ushered in each Nameless Ghoul being introduced by their symbol before picking up with the last song left off. When the song was over Papa Emeritus III blew kisses to everyone on the floor and mezzanine above.
Winding down the extraordinary evening, “Ghuleh/Zombie Queens” was followed by “Ritual” as the final song of the set. During the latter track, Papa Emeritus III took time to walk over to each band member and gesture towards them as he signaled for the audience to give them their due respect. Once he was done singing the last verse of the song, he stood there, center stage, facing the audience with his arms wide open as The Nameless Ghouls all joined him to take a bow. Proving not to be the end, Papa Emeritus III said, “We are going to play one more special song for you.” He then said, “We want everyone to consider what we do like an orgasm. We have been here over an hour and forty minutes, sweating, rubbing against each other, you have to end with an orgasm!” He continued with this dialog for several minutes, coming to a point in which he talked about the female orgasm being the “craft of the devil.” He then asked, “Do you agree?,” and of course many did. He continued with, “Tonight, we will celebrate the female orgasm! So sing with us a majestic song about the female orgasm in the name of Satan,” leading into grand finale, “Monstrance Clock.”
It is one thing to put on a strong performance, but Ghost gave a thrilling one that did not just stimulate the senses, but connected with each and every member of the audience. The music was played impeccably and Papa Emeritus III’s vocals was spot on, as was the song selection. They will continue with the Black To The Future tour through the United States before heading back to Europe. Despite one’s feelings of Ghost, whether decided on their own or by some uninformed mainstream outlet, this band puts on a must see, unforgettable show.